Every hospital in the Twin Cities area now offers what Rachel Swardson wished for after she had her first child: a little TLC to help her look and feel good again after the physical and emotional stress of labor and delivery.
Swardson, ahem, conceived of her business after that first baby, but she started developing a business plan after she had her third child. Then two years ago, she launched Go Home Gorgeous. Her company’s trademarked Postnatal Body Therapy treats new mothers to massage, guided-relaxation exercises, and wraps with eucalyptus-infused steamed towels.
“People told me it wasn’t possible,” says Swardson, a former health-programming producer for PBS. “How will you get hospitals to let you into a secured area, touch someone’s naked body, and take your money and leave?” As with photographers hired for in-ward baby photos, Swardson’s staff of 39 licensed massage therapists must undergo health screenings and take training to comply with patient privacy requirements.
Based on feedback from customers and from hospital nurses, Go Home Gorgeous says the benefits of its treatments include decreased anxiety, reduced water retention, less muscle pain and cramping, and better lactation. Pampered patients ask for less medication, sleep better, and are more likely to follow aftercare instructions, Swardson says. Her pitch to hospitals is that they can provide a better patient experience at no cost. The treatments aren’t covered by insurance and are an out-of-pocket expense for patients.
Mothers-to-be—or anyone who wants to treat them to Go Home Gorgeous services—can order in advance on the Web site (gohomegorgeous.com) or by phone, then alert Swardson’s staff when delivery is taking place. Massage therapists are on call around the clock seven days a week (including holidays) in 12 Twin Cities hospitals, and also provide in-home service.
Anne Fuentes, manager for postpartum, newborn, and lactation services at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, says Go Home Gorgeous is part of a larger trend of hospitals focusing on women. “Hospitals around the Twin Cities are talking about building women’s health care centers” to address women’s cardiology and other gender-specific care, Fuentes says.
Spokesperson Gloria O’Connell of Allina Hospitals and Clinics (which include Abbott Northwestern) says that meanwhile, women-centered services that already exist in the Allina system will be expanded to more locations. One example is the “Mammo Parties” that are hosted by St. Francis Regional Medical Center in Shakopee with the help of the nearby Allure Salon. The parties feature “music, munchies, massages, manicures, and mammograms,” and Allina will export the idea to more of its facilities.